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Falling off the Daily Process

Falling off the Daily Process

Falling off the Daily Process

I'm a pretty busy 1-man show, and during times of being pretty busy, I find myself shunting some of the daily processes I have in place to the side.  I will often get immersed in what I call engineering brain candy activities (calculations, reports, sketches), and let entire days go by without updating timesheets, updating Quickbooks, retrieving voicemail, re-filing folders, etc.  

This leads to porpoising in book keeping, voicemail comms, filing and the like (not doing that activity for days, then spend half a day catching up).  But I get a tremendous amount of throughput and billing out the door (and maybe that's just my brain saying "I don't like to file, so keep going on the fun stuff, and I'll convince you that it's ok").

So I have a couple questions:

1. How many small home office types out there, such as me and my 1-man show, get their wives involved in book keeping and filing?

2. How many of you have used answering services, and has it worked out?  I've gotten comments back that folks always get voicemail, never me in person.

3. Do you fastidiously stick to a regimen of "filing at 4pm, retrieve voicemail at this time, process all receipts this day," etc?  I have that roadmap in place, but like I said, I tend to focus on making the hay while the sun is shining, not doing the filing.  Do you always maintain your regimen and a neat office, even in the face of a good book of work?

4. At what point did you bite the bullet and get a secretary and a small office?  I've been averaging about $9-12k a month in billing.  Hit a milestone of $16k in October.

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RE: Falling off the Daily Process

I have a rather strange business setup.  I'm either a 1-man show or a 5-man consortium on any given day.  I struggle with the administrative side as well.  I built my first business just as you are doing...eventually got wife involved, grew, she was office manager, I did the rest.  Never had to worry about admin or financial...she dealt with accountant and others.  Great!

Unfortunately, after about 5 years, she was getting burned out and so was I.  Sold it.  Worked 16 years for major firms, got tired of corporate world and did it again.  This time as described above.

In my estimation, if you want any personal progress, I would set a threshold of 18-20k before the office/secretary route, although it will enhance your business quite a bit to have those.  Remember, when you hire someone, it is a commitment to that person, not just a financial outlay for you.

RE: Falling off the Daily Process

You might try looking for a part time bookkeeper/assistant to start.  I have a friend who does that as her main source of income, so I know there are people out there.

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

RE: Falling off the Daily Process

Only ask your wife to do it if she is well qualified and wants to do it. Otherwise get some part time help. The advantage of getting outside help is that you can fire them easier ;)

Not answering the phone or at least returning calls is telling customers you don't want their business.


RE: Falling off the Daily Process

HDS, out of all the things worrying me right now, not being there to answer the phone is my number one concern.  I'm going with a local live answering service for a 2 month trial.  Not only do I have customers calling, I have a really good relationship with our state's DEP, and I get a ton of work from those relationships.  I can't have folks out there who - 100% of the time - call me and always get voicemail, not a live voice.  Back when this was a part time incubation thing, I could sort of live with it.  Now that I've been live for a year or so and doing this every day all day, I've got to pick up that ball.

I had the talk with the wife.  She's not into it.  She said dealing with the accounting and money would take the fun out of having me work from home.  But I feel like it's approaching a bottle neck.  I have to do something.  We here all know what we bill ourselves out at.  It's killing me that I spend all this effort doing work someone making $20 an hour could be doing, when I could either be doing billable work or having fun with the family.

On a side note, I know a guy who runs a consulting operation out of his house (not an engineer).  He has 3 employees show up there every day.  Cubicles and everything.  Dogs running around.  But he doesn't get any foot traffic, so it works for him.

RE: Falling off the Daily Process

The 3 employees everyday could get into zoning issues in some places. Usually not a problem unless the neighbors don't mind though.

Even with the service you have to return the calls. For that it is good to set aside a certain time everyday where you don't work on what you want to do until you finish returning calls. It would be better if it was twice a day. (no TV until you finish your homework. :) Make it your goal that no one waits more than 24 hours for a return call (all calls answered same day would be better).

RE: Falling off the Daily Process

I've been in business for 7 years, just me, my computer, and my truck.

If I'm here I answer the phone when it rings.  If I'm gone for a little while I forward my office phone to my cell.

I do bookkeeping ever other Friday.

Almost all of my "filing" happens by itself by my choice of computer folders.  The bit of paper that I have to file gets handled every other bookkeeping-Friday.  Most of the time my office looks like a pit, but it works for me.

I enter my hours billed into my billing database diary every day.

Never considered hiring help.  My wife would help, but it would take more time to teach her what to sweat than it would save.


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